Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Which Is Worse?

Reading Hebert's latest column, which articulates the relative failure of Harper's latest attempt to woo Quebecers, with his toothless federal spending restriction proposal, it would seem the reaction plays to the Bloc's advantage. Given the fact that the Liberals are less and less relevant in Quebec, for the near term at least, federalists are left with the Conservatives as the serious counter to the Bloc. If Stephen Harper achieves his majority, basic math demands that much of the gains must come at the Bloc's expense. It presents a interesting dilemma, which is worse, a Harper majority or a robust separatist contingent on the federal scene?

I understand why Quebecers vote for the Bloc, but for anyone who believes in a Canada that includes Quebec, their presence in Parliament is clearly unwanted and unproductive. The Bloc represents a narrow perspective, articulating a maddening knee jerk negativism to anything that could be construed as pro-Canada. That's the dynamic, that's the agenda, Quebec first, period. Fine for Quebecers in one sense, hardly constructive on so many other levels. Therefore, Harpers flawed view of federalism aside, any national party that can marginalize the Bloc should be welcomed, right? At first blush yes, but then when the consequences of the waning fortunes of the separatist cause are realized, you are left with a Harper majority.

In terms of real damage to the country, a Conservative majority is far more practical than the presence of a fringe party, that rarely influences much, rhetoric aside. With that reality in mind, I couldn't help but think "good" while reading Hebert's column, despite the fact that Harper's failure gives Duceppe a powerful talking point. Barring some miracle, wherein the Liberals rise from the ashes, the best scenario for Canada might include a healthy Bloc for the present, a check on Harper and his agenda. I'd never thought I'd say this, but I would rather have a large gang of cranky separatists in the House of Commons for now, rather than unchecked power for these new Conservatives. Rotten eggs or curdled milk?

13 comments:

Mushroom said...

Why are we making no traction against the Bloc? Their left wing ideology and support for social change, despite their flirtation with nationalism, populism, and socialism means that the second choice of Bloc voters should be the Liberals?

It has been ten months since Dion's ascension and there is still no policy ideas to deal with this. Waiting and seeing may be prudent and it worked for Chretien. Oh well, the watch of Harper blowing a gasket in Quebec is interesting [note the paint drying].

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I have to agree, if only because the Bloc is performing the valuable service of preventing a Harper "majority" at the moment.

In fact, as a member of a party that's had somewhat more success at getting Bloc votes than the Liberals have, I find myself entirely ambivalent about that success for that very reason. If the Bloc disappears, it simply won't matter that some of their seats have gone to the NDP (or even to the Liberals). The gameboard still shifts in favour of a phony majority for Harper.

ottlib said...

The Conservatives and the Bloc are going after the same voters, that is the nationalists.

Mr. Harper's overtures to Quebec appeals to them the most but they do not resonate nearly as well with federalists.

There is an opportunity there for the Liberals if they can get their act together as I have stated before.

As well, Mr. MacDonald's column could have the silver lining of snapping some Quebec Liberals out the self-indulgent BS that we have been seeing from them lately.

There is a belief that those Quebec Liberals who do not like Mr. Dion are working to have him lose so that it can facilitate his departure.

Unfortunately, such a strategy presupposes the Liberals hang on to their Montreal fortress. If they perceive that is in danger maybe those disenchanted Liberals may decide that Mr. Dion is better than political oblivion.

Anonymous said...

idealistic pragmatist, it's funny how the Bloc vote prevents a Harper majority while the NDP vote encourages one, isn't it?

"some of their seats"... surely you jest. Do you really think the NDP will hold Outremont and then some? Come on...

Anh Khoi Do said...

It's true that Bloc Québécois (BQ) looks more and more irrelevant as a party. While it pretends that it defends Quebecker values, a report from the BQ shows that many Quebeckers (particularly those in the Greater Area of Quebec City) have the feeling that the BQ just defends values of many people in Montreal. For instance, not every Quebeckers are actually socialist-leaning, while they're against full market economy. Moreover, many of them finally notice that the BQ is just a party that likes to complain about almost everything.

However, I don't think that Harper is heading straight towards a majority in the House of Commons. He'll just win new seats (mostly in Quebec).

Mushroom said...

Anh,

That's East Montreal. No traction in the west part, which is what the Grits are digging a trench.

With regards to Quebec and the market economy, note that Harper is moving more centrist and interventionist on economic issues. If Dion is going to make traction here, he will have to go more hard left. This may mean a 180 degree from Chretien and Martin.

Harper may work well in Roberval and Herouxville. He is having less traction in places such as Sherbrooke and Vaudreuil. There are some areas in Quebec which Dion can exploit. He can start by getting his message out more clearly in a francophone air war.

Anonymous said...

Your seemingly twisted desire is right on.

Better the bloc on the opposition benches than closet separatists at the cabinet table in a Majority gov't ala Mul-ruin-ee/Bouchard.

Steve V said...

mushroom

I was watching C Span tonight, and they made mention of a poll this weekend, that had the Liberals third on the Island of Montreal, tied with the NDP. There is no historical precedent for this circumstance, which translates to a best case scenario, wherein the Liberals are able to salvage their seats, and the notion of rebound, as ottlib suggests, a distant dream.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

Let me start off with a sob.

WAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

If the poll is true then what this means is that Justin Trudeau is struggling in Papineau and Julius Grey will have a good chance of knocking off Marlene Jennings in Notre Dame de Grace.

I thought last week was the start of the comeback in La Belle Province.

Joseph said...

What I find utterly shocking is that for the first time in recent history, Hebert didn't practically gush all over Harper's feet, or at least spit on Dion's.

I'm sure this is just the "balance" column to be followed by months of further groveling.

Steve V said...

"What I find utterly shocking is that for the first time in recent history, Hebert didn't practically gush all over Harper's feet, or at least spit on Dion's."

If memory serves, it was the first column on federal matters, where she didn't bad mouth Dion since October 2006 ;)

ottlib said...

Ugh!! This is what politics has come to in this country.

Some people are actually hoping that a party whose stated purpose is to destroy Canada will win enough seats to keep another party, that wants to do the same thing but does not admit it, from gaining absolute power. And I find I cannot say I totally disagree with them.

Someone please stop the planet. I want to get off.

Steve V said...

"Ugh!! This is what politics has come to in this country."

Depressing isn't it :)